(Press-News.org) Regular erections could be important for maintaining erectile function, according to a new study on mice published in Science by researchers at Karolinska Institutet. “We discovered that an increased frequency of erections leads to more fibroblasts that enable erection and vice versa, that a decreased frequency results in fewer of these cells,” says principal investigator Christian Göritz.
In a new study on mice, researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University in Sweden show that connective tissue cells called fibroblasts have a previously unknown and very important function in mediating erection.
“Fibroblasts are the most abundant cells in the penis of both mice and humans, but they have been neglected in research,” says Eduardo Guimaraes, researcher at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Karolinska Institutet and first author of the paper. “Now we can show, using a very precise method called optogenetics, that they have a very important role in regulating blood flow in the penis, which is what makes the penis erect.”
The study shows that fibroblasts mediate erection by taking up the neurotransmitter noradrenaline, which leads to the widening of blood vessels in the penis. How effective this process is depends on the number of fibroblasts.
The body adapts
The researchers were also able to show that the number of fibroblasts in the penis is affected by the frequency of erections. The more frequent the more fibroblasts and vice versa; a lower frequency of erections reduced the number of fibroblasts.
“It’s not so strange really. If you exert yourself a lot, your body adapts. If you run regularly, it will eventually become easier to breathe while running,” says Christian Göritz, senior researcher at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Karolinska Institutet, who led the study.
In terms of what conclusions can be drawn for humans from studies on mice, Christian Göritz says that in this case there are significant similarities.
“The basic mechanisms of erection are very similar in all mammals regarding anatomy, cell structure and so on,” he says. “However, there is one difference between humans and most mammals – they have a bone in their penis. This means that effective blood flow regulation is probably even more important for human reproduction.”
Fewer fibroblasts with age
Older mice had fewer fibroblasts in the penis, which was also reflected in lower blood flow. The ability to get an erection decreases with age also in humans, which could be partly due to fewer fibroblasts in the penis. The researchers therefore believe that it could be possible to train the ability to get an erection to counteract impotence in the same way as you can train your strength or fitness at the gym.
“This is not something we have shown in our study, so it is a bit speculative, but a reasonable interpretation is that it gets easier if you have regular erections,” says Christian Göritz.
He hopes that the new knowledge of the role of fibroblasts in erection may also lead to new treatments for erectile dysfunction.
The research was mainly funded by the Bertil Hållsten Foundation and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. There are no reported conflicts of interest.
Facts: Erectile dysfunction, or impotence, affects between 5 and 20 per cent of all men, with the incidence increasing with age. Erectile dysfunction often negatively affects the quality of life and physical and psychosocial health, both for the patient and their family. Common risk factors, apart from age, are similar to those for cardiovascular disease: inactivity, obesity, hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol levels and metabolic syndrome. Source: Region Stockholm knowledge support Viss.nu.
Publication: "Corpora cavernosa fibroblasts mediate penile erection", Eduardo Linck Guimaraes, David Oliveira Dias, Wing Fung Hau, Anais Julien, Daniel Holl, Maria Garcia-Collado, Soniya Savant, Evelina Vågesjö, Mia Phillipson, Lars Jakobsson, Christian Göritz. Science, online 8 February 2024, doi: 10.1126/science.ade8064.
Fibroblasts in the penis are more important for erectile function than previously thought
ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:
MIT physicists capture the first sounds of heat “sloshing” in a superfluid
In most materials, heat prefers to scatter. If left alone, a hotspot will gradually fade as it warms its surroundings. But in rare states of matter, heat can behave as a wave, moving back and forth somewhat like a sound wave that bounces from one end of a room to the other. In fact, this wave-like heat is what physicists call “second sound.” Signs of second sound have been observed in only a handful of materials. Now MIT physicists have captured direct images of second sound for the first time. The new images reveal how heat can move like a wave, ...
How emotions affect word retrieval in people with aphasia
COLUMBUS, Ohio – People with aphasia have more trouble coming up with words they want to use when they’re prompted by images and words that carry negative emotional meaning, new research suggests. The study involved individuals whose language limitations resulted from damage to the brain caused by a stroke – the most common cause of aphasia, affecting at least one-third of stroke survivors. The disorder impairs the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing. Researchers from The Ohio State University who led the study said the findings – suggesting that prompts ...
Pregnant women living in states with limited access to abortion face higher levels of intimate partner homicide
Key Takeaways Young women under the age of 30, Black women, and women with lower education levels are disproportionately affected by intimate partner homicide during pregnancy, reflecting the need to better serve and protect these vulnerable populations. Particularly by firearms, increasing rates of intimate partner homicide of women who are pregnant or recently pregnant are occurring in states that have limited access to abortion. Researchers describe a ‘dire ...
Researchers uncover genetic factors for severe Lassa fever
While combing through the human genome in 2007, computational geneticist Pardis Sabeti made a discovery that would transform her research career. As a then postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Sabeti discovered potential evidence that some unknown mutation in a gene called LARGE1 had a beneficial effect in the Nigerian population. Other scientists had discovered that this gene was critical for the Lassa virus to enter cells. Sabeti wondered whether a mutation in LARGE1 ...
Leader in robotics at U-M and beyond elected to National Academy of Engineering
Feb. 8, 2024 Contact: Katherine McAlpine, 734-647-7087, email@example.com Image Leader in robotics at U-M and beyond elected to National Academy of Engineering Dawn Tilbury is recognized for advances in manufacturing network control and human-robot interaction, as well as engineering leadership ANN ARBOR—Dawn Tilbury, the Ronald D. and Regina C. McNeil Department Chair of Robotics at the University of Michigan, has been recognized with one of engineering's greatest honors—election to the National Academy of Engineering. NAE members are outstanding researchers, ...
16 UTA scholars receive McNair federal research award
A competitive U.S. Department of Education program that prepares undergraduate students interested in careers in academic research has selected 16 undergraduate students from The University of Texas at Arlington to join. The McNair Scholars Program was named for physicist and astronaut Ronald E. McNair, the second Black astronaut in U.S. history and one of several crew members killed when the space shuttle Challenger exploded on Jan. 28, 1986. The program assists qualified first-generation ...
Nanofiber bandages fight infection, speed healing
ITHACA, N.Y. – Cornell University researchers have identified a new way to harness the antioxidant and antibacterial properties of a botanical compound to make nanofiber-coated cotton bandages that fight infection and help wounds heal more quickly. The findings are especially important given the increasing prevalence of multidrug-resistant bacteria. Cotton gauze is one of the most common wound dressings; it’s inexpensive, readily available, comfortable and biocompatible. However, it doesn’t promote healing or fight infection. “Cotton alone cannot provide an answer for these ...
Newly discovered genetic malfunction causes rare lung disease
The macrophage is one of the body’s most important inhabitants. Meaning “big eater” in Greek, this immune cell consumes and digests problematic elements from microbes and cancer cells to dust and debris. Macrophages are especially important in the lungs, where they both fight bacterial infection and clear the lungs of excess surfactant, a protein- and lipid-rich layer that’s essential to healthy function but can create a sticky buildup if not controlled. In a recent study, investigators from Rockefeller University ...
Even with resolution, acute kidney injury in newborns can be life-threatening from very first episode
Our resilient kidneys are invaluable members of the body’s purification system, and they excel at bouncing back after injury. This even holds true for most sick infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. Because of this remarkable ability, dips in kidney function in infants were often overlooked historically in favor of other pressing diseases or symptoms. But physicians and researchers have shown increased interest in understanding kidney health in newborns and young infants within the last decade, leading to the AWAKEN study (Assessment of Worldwide Acute Kidney Epidemiology in Neonates). With initial ...
High-profile incidents of police brutality sway public opinion more than performance of people’s local law enforcement, new study from NYU Tandon reveals
National media coverage of police brutality influences public perceptions of law enforcement more than the performance of people’s local police departments, according to data analysis from NYU Tandon School of Engineering, challenging the assumption that public confidence in police depends mostly on feeling safe from local crime. In a study published in Communications Psychology, a NYU Tandon research team tracked media coverage of police brutality in 18 metropolitan areas in the United States – along with coverage of local crimes – and analyzed tweets from those cities to tease out positive attitudes from negative ...